A New York man was arrested and charged with attempting to fly to Yemen to join al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to federal prosecutors.
The man, Marcos Alonso Zea, 25, was intercepted by customs officials in the U.K. while on his way to Yemen in January 2012, U.S. prosecutors said in a statement today. After his trip was interrupted, Zea helped a friend, Justin Kaliebe, with his plans to fly overseas and join the terrorist group, prosecutors said.
Zea is scheduled to appear today in federal court in Central Islip, New York, where he has been indicted on charges of conspiracy, attempt to provide material support to terrorists and obstruction of evidence stored on computer drives, according to prosecutors. Zea, a U.S. citizen, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, they said.
“Inspired by terrorist propaganda, Mr. Zea traveled abroad in 2012 in a vain attempt to reach Yemen, join al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and fight violent jihad,” FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said in a statement.
Zea, after he learned he was under investigation, asked an associate to erase or destroy computer hard drives containing extremist materials, including issues of al-Qaeda-affiliated Inspire magazine with articles such as “Which is Better: Martyrdom or Victory,” “Why Did I Choose al-Qaeda” and “What to Expect in Jihad,” according to prosecutors.
“Despite being born and raised in the United States, Zea allegedly betrayed his country,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in the statement.
Kaliebe, 18, was arrested in January while trying to board a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Muscat, Oman, prosecutors said in a criminal complaint filed at the time. He pleaded guilty in February to two counts and is to be sentenced Dec. 6, prosecutors said.
The case is U.S. v. Zea, 13-cr-00072, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Central Islip).